In 2006, songwriter Katya Chorover traded a view of Washington State’s San Juan Islands for a view of the San Juan Mountains, which she can now see from her living room in Colorado. It took this move from the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest to the dry, high deserts of Southwestern Colorado for her to find the inspiration she needed to complete her first album in ten years, Big Big Love. That’s a long time to wait for any artist, and though she was busy writing and living her life, she’d taken a long hiatus from performing. But the sounds of country music radio that rolled through the canyons of her home in Cortez, Colorado, subtly infused her new songs with a kind of dusty, rusty twang.
With a long history of songwriting in the Northwest, where her insightful lyrics and beautifully crafted melodies helped her stand far out from the pack of singer-songwriters, Katya returned to Portland, Oregon, to work with producer Casey Neill, an acclaimed songwriter himself, to record Big Big Love. Neill helped line up a host of Portland’s hottest roots musicians in a city that’s known as a hub for a new folk music revival, including two early members of the Decemberists, Jesse Emerson on bass and Ezra Holbrook on drums, and current Decemberist Jenny Conlee-Drizos on piano. Other musicians include Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) on fiddle, Matt Brown (She and Him) on guitar, Dan Tyack on pedal steel and dobro, and Zak Borden on mandolin.
The full band sound showcases Katya’s beautiful, crisp vocals, surrounding her voice with a forest of acoustic instruments and electric steel guitar The result is an album as delicately balanced as a desert rock pile, with one foot in the acoustic country music Katya’s grown to love, and another foot in the innovative Northwest roots music scene that she helped build years ago.
Big Big Love comes out of the gate with the title song, a beautiful waltz, singing “Come and paint me a picture/of a tranquil scene/a pond/a rowboat/a peaceful dream.” Even with electric guitar and drums, “Big Big Love” could nearly be a country lullaby. In fact, much of Katya’s new material came from her “parenting hiatus.” “Since having a child, my life has slowed, and changed immeasurably,” she says. “Continuing to be creative has been a challenge, but also has become somehow richer and even more pleasurable.” You can hear this new burst of creativity in a song like “Little Bird,” that plays with rhythm, spinning around and around the melody, or in the song “Cavalries of Love” that incorporates a beautiful trumpet line into a soaring song of hope.
Of course, the real star of the album is Katya’s voice. Her singing is so clear and beautiful, with just the slightest hint of a rough edged twang. Despite being a native Bostonian, then a long-time Seattleite, there’s a natural grace to her country sound. Her love for roots music is evident throughout the new album, and her poetic songwriting coupled with a deep traditional sound has garnered her a devoted fan base. As she opens with the words “Big big love, big big heart, big wide spirit sets you apart,” we can only feel the same big, big love right back at her, and we’re sure you will too.
Big Big Love Spring/Summer Tour – More Dates TBA
Mar. 25 - Avogadro's Number, Fort Collins, CO ***
Mar. 28 - The Grant House, Vancouver, WA
Mar. 30 - Egan's Ballard Jam House, Seattle, WA +++
Mar. 31 - Traditions Fair Trade Cafe, Olympia, WA +++
Apr. 1 – House Concert, Portland, OR +++!!
Apr. 4 - The Grant House, Vancouver, WA
Apr. 6 - The Axe and Fiddle Public House, Cottage Grove, OR ^^^
Apr. 27 - Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, NM (Rail Yard location)
June 2 - Dolores River Festival, Dolores, CO
June 3 - Club Passim, Cambridge, MA %%%
***Split bill w/ Kathryn Mostow
+++ With Dan Tyack on pedal steel and dobro
!! Kathryn Claire opens
^^^Split bill with San Francisco's Misner & Smith
%%% Split bill with Casey Neill